Retired professor, 68 years old Nadezda Radovic from Kotor is the only women who today is making the old and the precious handwork – lace from Dobrota, which dates from the XV century and according to some sources even from the XII century.
Mrs. Nadezda got interested and got the first knowledge about the lace from Dobrota while she was still a little girl, and the crown of her seven years old intensive work was the exhibition in the Maritime museum, where she presented the white textile with modern works, tablecloths and other items decorated and ennobled with details of original lace from Dobrota. With this exhibition, she, as she points out, has shown that that work of art has to live, because the old artists of lace work are long gone, and the names of the late women making the embroidery are unknown. This modest and hardworking women which is considered to be very kind, but a strict professor, says that her wish is to transfer her knowledge in the making of lace from Dobrota to younger women and girls as she has been doing that in education for 36 years. She considers her art cycle very valuable, because it is something new in the family of embroidery from Dobrota and in the artistic family of Montenegro in general.
– I am sorry, and I believe that people from Dobrota and the lovers of this kind of art are even sorrier that today we do not have any preserved samples of lace from Dobrota from this ancient times. But we are proud with those samples which we have from the XV century. I am also sorry that today we don’t have anyone who can tell me that his or her grandmother made Dobrota lace – begins her story Mrs. Radovic.
On the wall in her home in Dobrota three samples of Dobrota lace which she got as a gift from Mrs. Smilja Dabinovic, are in a frame, but she doesn’t know who made them.
– The only thing I know is that the altar cover of Sveti Gracije was made by the sister Pina Jankovic and Andjica Djurovic, and the preserved sample of Dobrota lace from the XV century is being kept in the house of Zoran Radimiri. It is a hat which at the end of the XIX century was found on an exhibition in Vienna where it won the first prize, and provoked great interest. And the altar cover of Holy Gracije was at the exhibition in Paris in the middle of the XX century and it also won the first prize. Today that altar cover you can only see on the day of the Holy Gracije – said Dabovic.
A real treasure of Dobrota lace, she says, she saw in the church of Sveti Stasije. Parish priest don Gracije Ivanovic was one of the rare people who saw the importance of this domestic handwork and who has done everything to preserve that treasure in the best possible way. He collected samples of Dobrota lace which he got from older families, he wrote about that, and made exhibitions of the lace.
Mrs. Nadezda says that her mother too, when she was a girl herself, made the white embroidery, whose framed sample is a decoration in the home of Rradovici.
She points out that from the early childhood “something has drawn her towards the white embroidery which had a special respect in their home, that is, in the personality of her mother”.
– She was always sorry that her works were missing, but she wasn’t sorry because of the reason for which they were gone. Namely, the majority of her works during the time of the WW II went to Konavle, because for those works she got food for her three children, and for her sister’s six children, but also for neighbor’s kids. She was happy that she could give her work for the food, but she was sad that her work was gone. Only one tablecloth remained and several milieus and they are not for use. They are preserved as valuable things which will further be given to our descendants. That is how I always carried that whiteness, beauty, gentleness and valuables with myself, and I have a feeling that through my fingers I feel the fingers of my mother, and that is the gene of that handwork, and it is still here, working – says Radovic.
She remembers her first acquaintance with the Dobrota lace in the house of the maritime family of Dabinovic as a 12 years old girl.
– In the house of Dabinovici, in the living room on a round table there was a white milieu with for me, at that time, unknown motifs of Dobrota lace. I remember that it was something good for both the eyes and the soul. Where that milieu is, since Mrs. Anka Dabinovic died, I don’t know, but I am carrying it in my memory, and it is still, today in me, and if I ever saw it I would recognize it. I am sorry that that valuable thing is gone, but if someone is preserving it today I am really happy because of that and that person has to know that he/she has a really valuable thing – says Radovic and adds that she has learned to make Dobrota lace in 1964.
In the home of Ankica Djurovic in which I found myself by accident I saw the work which I immediately recognized by similarity to the one from the home of Dabinovici. I asked her to teach me that and the first piece of work I call today a cultural monument of our area because on that piece you can see how you starts, how you work on it, and how you end the Dobrota lace. Considering the fact that I was professionally in education and that I was raly busy, I have been just waiting for the moment when I will have the time to make the embroidery, and that happened when I got retired – says Radovic.
TWO AND A HALF YEARS FOR A TABLECLOTH
– Lace from Dobrota is made by an ordinary sewing needle which is being threades through as if you were embroidering, and it is specific because of the fact that it can not be unstitched in any way. It is being made in circles or in squares, then from the sides it is being bound with wine-like bends and the geometric or flower like shapes are being made, depending on what the woman who is making the embroidery wants. On one milieu or a tablecloth you can find only one motif which can not be made on another tablecloth, curtain or something similar. That is the real value of the embroidery from Dobrota, because there are no repetitions, and that is what fascinated me. I decided to respect the silent tradition of anonymous female artists – says Radovic and adds that the embroidery from Dobrota is not hard to learn, but it is hard to be made, because it requires a lot of time, silence and patience, and a good time period. Embroidery from Dobrota, explains madam Nadezda, cannot be done more than two hours a day.
-For just a centimeter of the embroidery, depending on how you are filling it, it takes let’s say, two hours, and sometimes you can’t make it for 15 all days. In my art cycle I have been working on a single small cross for a month, and one tablecloth I have been making for a whole year. However, all of that was done with a great pleasure, because I think that those long forgotten hand of women from Dorbota who were making embroideries deserve and have the right to have that precious work of theirs restored – says Radovic.